At this point, we have now taken a look at the best KU football teams in history and the worst KU football teams in history. We're analyzed the best non-conference opponents and the worst non-conference opponents. It's time to take a look at the schools closest to home, the ones that we love to hate - our conference foes.
The Big 6/7/8/12 routinely puts out good, even great teams. Obviously, they also put out some stinkers. Sometimes, that stinker has been Kansas... but not always! I'd like to take a look at the worst teams that a conference foe has ever put onto the field versus the Jayhawks and how KU did against them on that day.
So when I got to looking at KU's conference rivals, I found that six of the top seven worst conference opponents of all-time were Kansas State. In fact, 17 of the top 25 worst conference opponents were some yearly version of the Kansas State Wildcats. Now, while writing an article about how K-State used to be so hilariously awful does appeal to me, I'm guessing it would get old quickly for you, dear reader. So instead, we'll take a look at each conference-mate individually, pick out their worst season, and see how they fared against the Jayhawks.
I'm going to separate this into two parts, as the Jayhawks don't have extensive historical conference rivalries with Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor, or West Virginia. So, we will look at those schools at the end and exclude them from our countdown.
Remember, we're only taking a look at the worst teams that KU actually played, so for example, the worst team in Colorado history (2012) won't be on here.
7. 1996 Oklahoma (3-8 (3-5), -5.10 SRS)
In its history, OU only has eight seasons with a negative SRS. John Blake coached Oklahoma for three years (1996-98), and in his first two years managed to lead the Sooners to their two worst seasons ever (according to the SRS). The Jayhawks started off the '96 campaign ranked at #25 and moved up to #20 before losing to Utah in their third game of the year. The Jayhawks smoked the Sooners in Norman, putting up a 52-24 victory and handing Oklahoma their fourth consecutive loss of the young season. The '96 Sooners lost to Tulsa, San Diego State, TCU, Texas Tech, and Kansas that year. The top-10 ranked Cornhuskers put up 73 points on the hapless Sooners when they faced off as well. It wouldn't be much longer and Bob Stoops would arrive in Norman, and the days of losing to Kansas (and Tulsa) would be long gone.
6. 1962 Colorado (2-8 (1-6), -10.87 SRS)
1962 turned out the fourth-worst team in Colorado history. The only two teams Colorado beat that year were Kansas State and Air Force. The Buffaloes rolled into Lawrence early in the season with a 1-1 record, but were steamrolled by Kansas, 35-8. That Kansas team had Gale Sayers starting at halfback (perhaps you've heard of him?) on it and I'm guessing the Buffs simply had no answer. The '62 Buffaloes finished dead last in the country (120 of 120) in points allowed at 34.6 PPG and 88th of 120 in points scored per game (12.2).
5. 1925 Oklahoma State (2-5-1 (0-3-1), -11.45 SRS)
The sixth-worst team in OSU history met the Jayhawks in Lawrence and went back to Stillwater defeated by a 13-3 score in the first game of the year for both squads. The Cowboys only won two games that year (TCU, SW-OSU) while losing to the likes of Emporia State (then the Kansas State Teacher's College) and Grinnell College. The Jayhawks themselves were in pretty bad shape in 1925, beating only OSU and Missouruh and getting shut out in four of their five losses.
4. 1943 Nebraska (2-6 (2-3), -15.48 SRS)
The '43 edition of the Nebraska Cornhuskers turned out to be the worst season in school history. Big Red only won two games that year, both against the teams from Kansas. Nebraska defeated the Jayhawks 7-6 and the Wildcats 13-7. Nebraska gave up 54 points three times that season, to Minnesota, Indiana, and Missouruh. Their closest loss of the season was a 27-6 debacle at the hands of Iowa State. The Jayhawks weren't awful that year, especially defensively, but had a hard time putting up points. KU's offense only put up double digits four times in 1943 and only once got into the 20s - on defense, the Jayhawks held opponents to single digits five times, and the most points they gave up in a game was 26 in a loss to Oklahoma.
3. 1946 Iowa State (2-6-1 (1-4), -16.02 SRS)
Even though ISU has three winless seasons in its history (1918, 1930, 1994), none of those teams were as bad as the '46 Cyclones per the SRS. The only two wins for ISU in 1946 came against Northern Iowa (20-18) and Kansas State (13-7). The Jayhawks traveled to Ames that year and came back to Lawrence with a 24-8 victory. KU was solid that year, finishing 7-2-1, even knocking off then-#16 Oklahoma. The Jayhawks and Cyclones met in the fourth game of the season for each team. Iowa State only scored in double figures three times in 1946 while giving up 30+ points four times.
2. 1901 Missouruh (1-6-1, -18.44 SRS)
Technically, Missouruh and Kansas weren't in a conference in 1901 (the MVIAA, precursor to the Big 6, didn't form until 1907). At this time, both schools were independents. But, the Jayhawks and that team to the east had been playing football regularly since 1891, so I went ahead and went with this team, the worst in Missouruh history according to the SRS. Despite winning three games, Kansas was really bad this year as well according to the SRS (-8.06), and fell to the Tiggers in Kansas City by an 18-12 score. Missouruh only won the one game that year, got shut out five times (including by Haskell and Drake), and only scored more than six points once (vs KU obviously).
1. 1945 Kansas State (1-7 (0-5), -21.87 SRS)
Kansas State has put out an impressive 19 squads with an SRS rating worse than -10.00. (It's ok to laugh, Jayhawk fans, as KU only has six such seasons.) (Side note: While KSU does have 15 seasons of an SRS of +10.00 or greater compared to KU's 12, only two of those seasons were coached by someone other than Bill Snyder.)
The Wildcats have suffered through seven winless seasons - somehow, none of those teams topped the 1945 edition for worst-rated team in school history. And these '45 'Cats were bad. They finished 92 of 101 teams in points scored per game (8.9) and 99 of 101 in points allowed (33.5). They only won one game, the season opener against Wichita State, by a 13-6 score. K-State would not break the 13 point mark on offense all year, and would allow 30+ points in five straight games. The Wildcats and Jayhawks met in the last game of the year in Lawrence, where KU took a 27-0 shutout victory. Ah, memories.
-- Other conference mates --
The following schools have been in a conference with KU recently, but the Jayhawks have limited history with them, as almost all of them are new(er) additions to the Big 12.
2003 Texas A&M (4-8 (2-6), -3.46 SRS)
Texas A&M only shared a conference with KU from 1996-2011. The Aggies and Jayhawks have only faced each other 11 times in their histories, with nine of those coming in the Big 12 era. TAMU is 9-2 all-time versus the Jayhawks. The '03 Aggies are the rated as the sixth-worst team in TAMU history. They knocked off the Jayhawks 45-33 in College Station in what I'll remember as Adam Barmann's coming out party, as he took over for an injured Bill Whittemore in Mark Mangino's second season. I remember thinking at the time we might have something in that kid. Barmann went 25/37 for 294 yards and 4 TDs against 1 INT against the Aggies that day.
2014 Texas Tech (4-8 (2-7), -3.56 SRS)
Similar to TAMU, the Red Raiders have only shared a conference with KU since 1996 (although they stuck around during the last wave of realignment). The two schools have met 16 times on the gridiron, with 12 of those meetings as conference rivals. KU has only defeated TTU once in football, but alas, it wasn't in 2014, which rated as the 7th-worst Raider team in history. The Jayhawks, in Clint Bowen's third game as interim head coach, couldn't keep up with the Raiders and fell in Lubbock, 34-21.
2013 West Virginia (4-8 (2-7), -3.73 SRS)
Only the 12-worst edition of West Virginia Mountaineer football, they may have one of the more embarrassing losses in program history. WVU and KU have only been conference mates since 2012, but in 2013, a bad Kansas team jumped all over these Mountaineers in Lawrence and sent them home packing with a 31-19 loss. The Jayhawks led 31-7 midway through the fourth quarter behind 211 rushing yards from James Sims as Montell Cozart was only asked to attempt 12 passes that afternoon.
1997 Texas (4-7 (2-6), -4.72 SRS)
Texas and Kansas have been in the same conference since 1996 as well, with the two schools meeting only twice before that time. In their entire history, UT only has six season with a negative SRS. Interestingly, the worst rated season, 1997, still saw the Longhorns win four games. Texas started off the season as the #12 ranked team in the country, but after getting absolutely trashed by UCLA 66-3 in the second game of the season, never saw the Top-25 again. UT had enough to beat Terry Allen's Jayhawks 45-31 in Austin, though, a game the 'Hawks needed to win for bowl eligibility.
1999 Baylor (1-10 (0-8), -15.97 SRS)
Baylor is another one of those schools with an historically awful program. The Jayhawks and Bears had only met three times before Baylor joined the Big 12 in 1996. 1999 ranks as the second-worst Baylor team of all time, with the only win this season coming against North Texas. The Bears and Jayhawks met up toward the end of the season in Lawrence, with KU taking home an easy 45-10 victory.
1997 TCU (1-10 (1-7), -16.04 SRS)
Kansas and TCU have a little bit more extensive history despite TCU having just joined the Big 12 in 2012, having met off and on from 1942 to 1964, then twice more in the '80s, then four more times in the '90s. Kansas is currently 8-19-4 all-time versus TCU, which includes 0-3 since the Frogs joined the conference (although every single one of those games has been much closer than anyone ever expected). 1997 ranks as the fourth-worst TCU squad in their history. These Frogs only won one game, the season finale against SMU. They were bad on defense and even worse on offense, allowing 29.5 ppg (83 of 112 teams) while scoring only 15.6 ppg (106 of 112). The Jayhawks hosted TCU in the season opener for both squads and came away with a 17-10 victory.
So the Jayhawks have gone 5-2 versus the worst teams ever put out by their "traditional" conference rivals, and are 8-5 overall after adding in the newcomers. I know that was a lot of reading, but you did good to make it this far. Pat yourself on the back and go tell someone the best K-State joke you know.